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Discover the Ancient Wonders of Beit Guvrin

December 15, 2019

What attracts millions of visitors to this ancient and once-thriving city?

Tell Merasha is the biblical iron-age city of Maresha. Throughout history, it was inhabited by different people groups, such as the Israelites and Edomites, until it fell into the hands of the Greeks during the conquest of Alexander the Great and became a city for retired Greek soldiers. 

Beit Guvrin-Tel Maresha throws you back in time as you walk through the ancient ruins of a Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, Jewish cemeteries, public baths, burial caves, and more than 800 bell caves.

The Roman Amphitheater

One of the four Roman amphitheaters in Israel, it was built in the second century for Roman troops stationed in the region and could seat close to 3,500 spectators. The arena is surrounded by a series of connected barrel vaults, which form a long, circular corridor that supports the seats above. Gladiatorial contests were held there for the entertainment of the soldiers. It was in use until its destruction by the Galilee earthquake of 363. Visitors are free to roam around, stand in the arena where gladiators would fight to the death, and sit where bloodthirsty crowds would cheer the competitors.

Bell Caves – A Wonder

The Beit Guvrin area has over 800 bell-shaped caves, dug during the early Arab period for chalk to cover roads. The caves can reach a height of 18 meters (60 ft.), and underground passageways connect groups of 40–50. If you’re expecting them to be dark and musty, think again. The caves are bright because of their massive entrances and the gaping holes at their apexes. When you walk in the enormous, hand-carved belly of a bell, each sound is amplified and echoes off the smooth stone walls. The caves’ acoustics give the sound a magical quality – so much so that cultural and musical events are held in them.


Bell Cave, Beit Guvrin

Bell Cave, Beit Guvrin


The Columbarium Cave and Ancient Burial 

In addition to the bell caves, large caves of a different type have been uncovered by earthquakes. Dug into the stone are almost 2,000 niches, thought to be for burial rituals, growing pigeons for food, ritual sacrifices, or fertilizer production. Still, neither ashes nor pigeon droppings have been found in them, and so they remain a mystery.

You can also adventure into the Greek Sidonian burial caves, which date back to between the third and first centuries BC. These family tombs contain beautifully painted cultural symbols and both mythical and real creatures. Carved on both sides are burial niches in which family members would be laid to rest and, at one end, a bed like structure meant for the Sidonian patriarch. 


Sidonian Burial Cave

Sidonian Burial Cave


It doesn’t stop there! There is so much more to see, like the Church of Saint Anne, Roman mosaics, and the ruins of a city that survived wars and revolts.

We can take you there. Whether your wish is to hike or explore, our experienced and adventurous guides will transport you back in time and make every stone and story come to life. Discover the ancient city with us!


Join our tours for a once in a lifetime experience!